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The Catastrophizer isn't simply good for realistic and dispiriting relationship advice. Read as I do what Scientific American couldn't: provide a reasonable answer to the following question.

Where will the U.S. get its electricity in 2034?

This question needs to be rephrased. It should read: "Where will those in the U.S. still able to afford electricity get their electricity in 2034?" For by 2034, American society will have become even more dramatically and irreversibly stratified. From their fortified mountaintop aeries, the wealthy (employed either by aerie fortification service providers or a CSI spinoff) will gaze out over a landscape dotted with melting ice caps and adorable baby animals that are the last of their kind. 

The poor will live largely underground, partly because their eyes can now function only in near-darkness and partly because the baby animals are hungry.

Oil reserves will have been exhausted and natural gas will have been ruled out as too obvious. So the question remains: where will the rich get their energy?  The answer is proof that innovation will not be extinct in future times. The engineers of the future, now gripped by Bieber fever but soon to be gripped by the terrible, terrible cold, will have devised a way to power their remaining luxury devices by harnessing the energy produced by the burning of other countries. People the world over will still want to move to America, because they will be on fire.  


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.

 
 
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What did you wake up this morning yearning for? That's right. Some theorizing. More specifically, some erroneous theorizing that can be graciously and gracefully corrected by the Catastrophizer.

Michigan Tech's Counseling Services website features a great deal of "helpful" advice intended to "support" "students" (a note to would-be writers: quotation marks are a great and easy way to cast aspersions on actual writers). It contends that catastrophizing will have a dispiriting, if not paralyzing, effect on young people and that this is a Bad Thing. This kind of anti-catastrophizing propaganda and fear-mongering is all too common, so I am obliged to word-monger.

The person caught up in catastrophizing gets "stuck" thinking that the possibility of something happening is almost the same thing as the certainty of that thing happening. If it's possible that I might mess up this test, it's certain I'm going to mess up this test. 


No, Michigan Tech. It's just likely that I will fail this test because I have failed at so much in life already. If I do very well on this test, that success will ultimately prove to be inconsequential when considered in light of the other, bigger, things I have yet to fail at.  

If it's possible this attractive stranger will scorn me if I try and strike up a conversation, then it's certain that he or she will. 

Yet another inaccurate description of catastrophic thinking. It's not certain this stranger will scorn me. It's just all too possible, given my past romantic disappointments and the fact that I am fated to grow old and increasingly unattractive alone. If the attractive stranger does not scorn me, he/she will turn out to be stupid.

If I'm thinking I might have a heart attack this afternoon, then the fact that I'm thinking it must be a clear and accurate premonition that the heart attack is on its way-- otherwise I wouldn't be thinking about it.

I'm thinking about a possible heart attack because it's always possible I'll have one. If I limit myself to worrying just about a heart attack, though, I am not really a catastrophizer. A good catastrophizer knows that concentrating on the likelihood of one bad thing happening is doing life a disservice: at any given moment, hundreds of demoralizing or disastrous things could come to pass. I might not have a heart attack, but it's entirely possible I'll fail that test. And if I don't fail that test, that attractive stranger I've been looking at will surely scorn me. And if he/she doesn't scorn me, someone else will. Dread will always turn out to have been justified. 

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
 
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Once you've really got the hang of catastrophizing, you may find yourself wanting to do it all the time. To brood on human mortality while watching the sun set. To wonder how many more mornings you have left when you wake up in the morning. To consider in a focused manner the fact of your very own inevitable death while watching Celebrity Sex Rehab

When you become more keenly aware of your flaws and failings, you'll delight in tracing them to real and imagined consequences. Have my insecurities caused me to turn my back on any number of possible vocations? Would my many inadequacies have caused me to fail at those vocations anyway? Will my need to watch 16 and Pregnant eventually lead to increased emotional distance between myself and my friends?

The temptation to catastrophize constantly will be considerable, but you must be strong, at least intermittently. People often say that the without the lows of life, the highs would be less intoxicating, but the reverse is also true. Without the occasional high, the lows of life will lose their lustre.

So even though you'd rather watch Disaster Date and focus on self-esteem issues... even though you'd rather browse Instructables and contemplate your chronic lack of creativity...you must occasionally try to delight and inspire and laud yourself. For only after moments of elation can real and imagined catastrophes truly be appreciated; only against a backdrop of occasional brightness will the oppressive gloom stand out starkly. 

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
 
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The man who dispenses advice on the website A New Mode doesn't believe in capitalizing his name. I don't believe in taking advice from hippies.

I’ve been talking to this guy for a couple months now. When we first started talking, he was always the one to text me first and ask me to hangout.

Lately though, I always have to text him first, and it takes him FOREVER to reply and sometimes he doesn’t even reply at all unless I text him more than once.  I also have been having to make all the effort to hangout and sometimes when we make plans to hangout, he’ll just bag out last minute.

I know this makes it sound like he doesn’t like me, but he keeps telling me that he does.  Also, when I do text him or when he texts me (very rare), he still calls me “babe” and stuff.

Am I being needy by texting him all the time?  Should I lay off and wait for him to make more effort?


1) Absolutely do NOT lay off. Dogged persistence in the face of every possible nonverbal sign of dislike is one of the qualities men find most desirable. When you text him repeatedly, you're adding to your mystique. 

2) Also, if you lay off, there's a very good chance that he never will end up making a greater effort with you. You'll probably never receive another poetic text from him. You'll probably never hang out with him again. This is because he doesn't like you. It's quite clear he doesn't like you. It distresses me that there's any doubt in your mind that he doesn't like you. He seems enough of a coward, though, that he will never be able to tell you this directly. Which means that as long as you text him repeatedly, he will eventually, reluctantly, respond. Which means that you will have at least some semblance of a reciprocal relationship, if that's what you want. 

3) If this mutually-fulfilling relationship does come to an end, never fear. It sounds like you have enough on the go that you will appeal to men initially and enough pronounced personal flaws that you will repel them eventually. As such, you will never run out of fraught texting relationships about which to agonize. I look forward to hearing from you again in the future.

4) If you find yourself needing more affection more often, I have some advice for you. Just find a guy with a loud Hawaiian shirt, shiny polyester pants and shoes with no socks who is loudly chewing gum and talking to his broker on a slightly outdated cellular telephone, and I guarantee that if you talk to him for more than five minutes, he'll call you "babe."



Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
 
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This online kids' advice column is not simply noteworthy because of its jarring colour scheme and unorthodox choice of fonts. It also features a letter that features the word "retarded" without quotation marks.

I Like this boy but my friend called him and he said that im ugly!!! He also said that if he went out with me he would be retarded!!! what do i do????

1) I'm relieved to hear that you continue to use the present tense when discussing your liking of this boy. That suggests that in the future you will continue to feel affection for people even when they express their distaste and disdain for you in no uncertain terms. The fact that you are asking for advice indicates that you are inclined to try to change yourself, re-engineer yourself, rather than learn to judge accurately those who reject you. That's the kind of skill that will come in handy the rest of your life. 

2) I am concerned, though, by the fact that your self-doubt is not more explicit. Are you ugly? Why would going out with you make him "retarded"? Even if you aren't ugly or unpopular, entertaining suspicions that you are will help condition your negative intellectual impulse. These are the kind of catastrophizing opportunities you can't afford to squander. 

3) I'm also concerned by your exuberant use of quotation and exclamation marks because it speaks to a lack of self-consciousness. You should be more concerned about drawing attention to yourself, especially as you may already be ugly and unpopular.


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
 
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Maxim is more than just the place to find the bosoms belonging to the latest starlet. It is also the authority companionless, easily-humiliated middle-aged men turn to when they need advice about the fact that they are companionless and easily humiliated. 
Thirty years ago, I was going to ask a girl to the prom, or considered it. I asked a friend's opinion when he cut me up over the phone replying,"She won't go out with you," thus making me look small. I never ended up going to my junior or senior prom because of that. I've always felt no girl wanted anything to do with me because of that and the fact I never finished college or landed a high-paying job. I've been hurt by that for 30 years what should I do?


1) Most people, however much they might try, never learn to catastrophize as inventively and destructively as you have. You don't need (much) help; you need (many) accolades. And you will have them!

2) Soon. The accolades, I mean. First, I will offer one friendly and helpful suggestion. Catastrophizing of the causal variety involves extrapolating calamitous results from a seemingly insignificant cause. The comment from your friend is just such a cause. You err, however, when you indicate that you feel women want nothing to do with you because of that comment and the fact that you have made nothing of your life. You should be entertaining the possibility that you have led a totally and irredeemably failed life only because of that comment. The important point, I realize, is that no woman will ever find you attractive, but I nevertheless feel that the chain of reasoning should be sound.

3) One other thing concerns me: you shouldn't need a casual comment from a friend to feel small. You should be able to feel small at the slightest provocation, or at no provocation at all. You should be able to conclude that you're small on the basis of a comment your friend makes on a topic that seems to have nothing to do with you whatsoever. 

4) Don't feel discouraged by my constructive criticism. You are well ahead of where most people are already. You feel small when probably you shouldn't; you allow this probably unfounded feeling to prevent you from asserting yourself with women for three decades. You are well on your way already. Just spend more time considering your lonely future and friendless dotage and in no time at all, you'll really be catastrophizing!

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.
 
 
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Cosmo's "guy guru" has already tackled this question, which means it's a bit presumptuous for me to take it on. But Cosmo is in the business of inadvertently making ladies feel like catastrophes, while I am in the business of doing so in a fully advertent fashion, so it's just possible I'll be able to add something. And I know that's not a real word, by the way. Not like "ept". That's a real word, for sure.

My boyfriend and I live on opposite coasts. His roommate is moving out, and it looks like the room will be rented to a girl. I found a picture online, and she’s really pretty, plus my boyfriend says she has “a great personality.” I’m nervous about her — should I tell him I’d rather he not live with her?


1) You must absolutely tell him that he cannot live with her. Throw in some unreasonable accusations and complaints about your body and you'll have the kind of relationship-straining conversation of which catastrophizers dream. 

2) I'm glad you've already started to do internet research to support your as-yet baseless suspicions. If you are really going to work to destroy your relationship, you will have to use every tool at your disposal. Why not start flying across the country and turning up unannounced? That will keep him on his toes. Either you'll end up catching him canoodling with his new hottie roommate or he'll end up catching you doing something unspeakably paranoid. Whichever of these two things actually happens, your relationship will be harmed, probably irreparably. 


3) If your boyfriend really loved you, would he live a country's length away from you? Maybe it's not the new roommate you should be suspicious of. Or maybe it's not only the new roommate you should be suspicious of. He's alone, far from your influence. What could he be getting up to right now? How about now? I bet where he lives there are lots of women. Any one of them could be pretty and have a great personality. Spread your net of compulsive concern wide and learn to agonize over the kind of relationship he might have with every woman he mentions. But wait - if he thought he was falling for someone, wouldn't he remain silent about her? Maybe it's the women he doesn't mention that you should be worried about...


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.